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Director of Olympics opening ceremony dismissed


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Director of Olympics opening ceremony dismissed
The logo of Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games that have been postponed to 2021 due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, is seen through a traffic sign at Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office building in Tokyo, Japan. (Reuters)

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The show director of the Olympics opening ceremony was dismissed, one day before the event is due to be held.

Footage of Kentaro Kobayashi from the 1990s recently emerged in which he seems to be making jokes about the Holocaust.

Japan’s Olympic chief Seiko Hashimoto called out the video saying it ridiculed “painful facts of history”.

The dismissal is the latest in a string of scandals to hit the Games.

It comes days after a composer quit the team creating the ceremony after it emerged he had bullied classmates with disabilities at school.

Organisers are also dealing with rising Covid case numbers among athletes and officials. On Thursday, organisers said 91 people accredited for the Games have now tested positive for the virus.

After the removal of Kobayashi, organisers are now re-assessing how to hold Friday’s event.

“With the opening ceremony being so imminent, we apologise for causing concern to those involved in the Olympics, to the citizens of Tokyo and the Japanese public,” Hashimoto said in a statement.

Kentaro Kobayashi, who used to be a comedian, was heavily criticised for the comments, including from global rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Centre (SWC).

“Any person, no matter how creative, does not have the right to mock the victims of the Nazi genocide,” Rabbi Abraham Cooper, SWC Associate Dean and Global Social Action Director said.

Kobayashi also issued a statement responding to his dismissal.

“Entertainment should not make people feel uncomfortable. I understand that my stupid choice of words at that time was wrong, and I regret it,” it said. (BBC)